South Africa: Developments In Africa’s Competition Law

Last Updated: 27 May 2014
Article by Tamara Dini

Competition law developments in Africa continue to be closely monitored globally. Regional competition law in Africa took the spotlight in 2013, with the COMESA Competition Commission (the "CCC") commencing operations on 14 January 2013.

The CCC's initial year was not without serious challenges.

In particular, the international business and legal community raised concerns about the merger filing thresholds being set at nil and the high filing fees payable for merger notifications to the CCC; certain regulators within the COMESA region itself have not accepted the CCC as a "one stop shop" for merger notifications; and the COMESA Competition Regulations (the "Regulations") are dated and unclear in many respects, making their interpretation and application problematic.

Despite the large number of merger transactions that the Regulations purport to catch on the CCC's interpretation and with thresholds set at nil, during its first year of operation the CCC received only 11 merger notifications. The relatively low number of filings raises the question of whether merging parties are adopting a "wait and see" approach, given the lack of certainty and the various concerns raised, rather than submitting merger filings which are subject to potentially exorbitant filing fees.

However, the CCC has recognised many of the concerns raised over the last year and has entered into a Cooperation Agreement with the International Finance Corporation to engage a consultant to revised the merger provisions of the Regulations. Among the issues the consultant will be considering are the notification thresholds, merger filing fees, the scope of application of the Regulations as well as other areas of the regime in need of amendment. The consultant's proposals will be presented to the Council of Ministers (which sits annually) and the proposals are expected to be presented in the first quarter of the year. Significant developments to the COMESA regime are thus expected during 2014. The effectiveness of the changes to be introduced is likely to impact on the credibility of the regime going forward.

The CCC's focus thus far has been on mergers but the Regulations also deal with prohibited practices and consumer protection. These areas may become more important over time, provided that the CCC has a large enough staff complement to tackle these issues on a regional level. Currently the CCC comprises fewer than 20 officials and additional resources at the CCC would be required for the agency to enforce other areas of the Regulations.

Senior appointments at other competition agencies in Africa have also featured over 2013. In Tanzania, Dr Frederick Ringo was appointed Director-General of the Fair Competition Commission (the "FCC") for a period of 4 years, with effect from 1 August 2013. Dr Ringo is a corporate lawyer with over 20 years' experience in a vast range of areas of corporate and commercial law. including banking and finance, tax, project finance, public-private partnerships, corporate restructuring, privatisation and insolvency, litigation and dispute resolution projects.

In South Africa, the Competition Commission (the "Commission") has seen a number of moves at a senior level. Competition Commissioner Shan Ramburuth resigned towards the end of October 2013 and former Deputy Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele, was appointed as Acting Commissioner for a period of six months. In December 2013, Manager of Mergers, Ibrahim Bah, resigned and has not since been replaced. The Commission announced the appointment of three new senior officials with effect from 1 January 2014. Liberty Mncube has been appointed as Chief Economist and Manager of the Policy and Research division, Junior Khumalo as Divisional Manager of Enforcement and Exemptions and Thomas Kgokolo as Chief Financial Officer. Clint Oellermann, former Manager of Enforcement and Exemptions, moves to the Commissioner's Office as manager responsible for strategy, monitoring and evaluations as well as strategic relations. Tembinkosi Bonakele, acting Competition Commissioner, welcomed the new members of the Commission's Executive Committee, saying that he was confident that they will provide the necessary leadership to their divisions. The Commission has featured a high staff turnover for a number of years and previously the Public Protector's office was also asked to investigate alleged maladministration, financial mismanagement and victimisation. It is hoped that the appointment of new members of management, who will present strong leadership at the agency, will contribute to staff retention and the agency's institutional memory.

Other African competition law regimes continue to develop and increase their activities. For a relatively new regime, Botswana's Competition Authority (which was established in 2010) has been active. The Competition Authority issued 19 merger decisions in 2013. Investigations of prohibited practices are also underway and the Competition Authority has published a guideline on the imposition of penalties. While Botswana does not yet have a leniency policy in place, Thula Kaira, CEO of the Competition Authority, indicated in 2012 that the Competition Authority would, in principle, use the SADC Guidance Note on Leniency Programs and in 2013 a draft corporate leniency policy was prepared. Once the corporate leniency policy is adopted, an increase in cartel detection and investigations in Botswana is likely. Mozambique joined the ranks of African countries with competition law in 2013, introducing competition legislation with effect from July 2013. However, the Competition Regulatory Authority required to enforce the new law has not yet been established. A task team comprising members of the public and private sectors has been established to design the framework for the Competition Regulatory Authority. The task team plans to meet with other competition authorities, including the South African competition authorities, in this regard.

There remain many challenges for African competition law in the years to come. Many regulators face staff shortages, budget constraints and low institutional support. For businesses, competition law in Africa often presents uncertainties and a lack of harmony between the many regimes – some jurisdictions have merger control regimes and others do not; some have effectively enforced legislation, while others lack any meaningful enforcement; some have cumbersome procedural requirements and extensive time periods for authorities' actions, while others tend to be more efficient.

The strengthening of competition law institutions through regulators' cooperation and achieving a degree of convergence through the application of international best practices would certainly promote effectiveness and efficiency to the benefit of agencies themselves and business. A level of agency cooperation and convergence would improve enforcement and know-how at a national level. It would also lead to more predictability, which would assist businesses active in Africa.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions